Get the Closest Shave: The Best Safety Razor Reviews of 2016

Understanding how to shave is something that most of us believe that we have been taught growing up. It is a rite of passage, but one that has been co-opted by a number of different companies who conspire to sell us the biggest, baddest razors that we have ever seen.

That would be fine, if they were actually nice to shave with, but the fact is that they are actually not that great in the first place! Multi-blade razors can be good (in fact we have a review of good disposable razors right here), but they aren’t the best.

After a lot of searching for a great shave, I can personally attest to the fact that taking the time to search for, and making the investment in the right  razor  can elevate your shave to a completely different level.

I have compiled a list of the ten best safety razors available to you today. Take a look below - you can be sure that your face will thank you for it.

Best Safety Razor Comparison Table

Different Types of Shaving Products

The safety razor isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine. There are actually plenty of different razors that you can choose from, each with their own pros and cons. Additionally, almost everything that you use on a day to day basis is going to actually come in a few different forms that you can choose from.

Straight Razors

Shaving with a straight razor is something that you don’t really have to introduce. It’s what we remember from movies and maybe from a father or other adult shaving when we were a kid (if we were that lucky). The concept of a straight razor is probably the simplest of all the types of razor, it’s basically a knife that’s used for shaving after all.

What the straight razor lacks in complexity it makes up for in the quality of a shave, but at a price. The straight razor is a very scary shaving tool to use, and one that needs a lot of expertise to get right. Once you do gain that expertise however (and get over your fear of cutting your throat), you can get an extremely close shave and the benefit of a blade that never has to be replaced. Also, you look pretty cool when you’re using it, which is always a nice side benefit.

Electric Razors

The electric razor is another great example of a good razor that you will love to use in your day to day life, for the simple fact that it gives you an extremely quick shave. It’s great for taking on trips, using when you have only a few minutes to get out the door, and even for when you are out in the wilderness.

While the electric razor does give you a lot of the convenience factor that you might be looking for in a shaving tool, it adds a lot of complexity and doesn’t give you that great of a shave when compared to some of the other shaving blades that you can use.

Disposable Razors

The disposable razor might seem like something that you should be moving away from, but in reality there are a number of specific cases where you might actually want to use a disposable razor. Primarily, we recommend using disposable razors to make your life easier, but honestly some people just like using them as well, so we even made a guide to help make your decision easier.

If you want to take our advice however, we would recommend packing your disposable razor when you are traveling. While you theoretically can travel with a safety razor, it can be a huge hassle to do so. Also, there are numerous reports of blades being taken, both in checked and carry-on luggage, so in most cases we recommend that you shy away from doing this in practice. Fortunately, our guide will help you pick out a good alternative when you are away from your trusty safety razor.

Razors for Shaving Your Head

For those of us who have a reason to shave our head, whether you are balding and want to eliminate the little hair you still do have left, or you just like the look, you really want to know that you are using the right tool to shave your head. You can use almost anything for this type of shave, but there are actually specific tools out there that make the job a lot easier than it would be otherwise.

Using the right tool to shave your head is one thing that we recommend as a core tenet of this guide. If you have the right tool for the job, then you are going to always get a better result than using something that just kind of, sort of, works. Tools for shaving your head are abundant today, so take a look into them specifically if that’s something that you’re interested in.

Shaving Brushes

You might be asking yourself why you are reading about shaving brushes in an article about safety razors, but the trusty shaving brush is an important tool in the arsenal of a safety razor shaver. Gone are the days where you are expected to rub shaving gel out of a can onto your face (although you can if you want). The shaving brush is a great way to spread around your chosen shaving lubricant (more on these below) and it also helps to lift up the hairs on your face and neck, giving you a closer shave.

If you are using a safety razor with a traditional “rub shaving cream on your face” approach, you can get a lot more mileage out of using a shaving brush instead.

Shaving Creams

Shaving cream is what many consider to be the crème de la crème of shaving today. You can tell a good shaving cream because it really feels luxurious. It’s creamy, nice to the touch, and goes on smooth, not that you should put it on your face right from the jar however. Instead, you should lather it up in a separate shaving bowl with a shaving brush, although you can lather it on your face with your hands if you would like too.

A good shaving cream can last you a long time, if you use it well. We put together a guide on shaving creams expressly for this reason. You want something that is going to last you a long time and give you many good shaves, and you have to search for a bit to really find something that is going to go the extra mile for you and your face.

Shaving Soaps

Shaving soaps are one product that a lot of people don’t like, and for no good reason. Soaps in general are thought of as something that take moisture and oil away from your face and leave you with a dry mess, but that isn’t true of shaving soaps. These soaps are very similar to shaving creams in that they lather up and then are applied to your face, and they can largely be considered shaving creams in a different form.

I personally like shaving soaps a lot. Since they don’t move around much when you aren’t using them (they are soap, after all), you can travel with them more easily and without worrying too much about the top of the container popping off and spilling everywhere. Also, when you choose the right shaving soap, you tend to get a great looking lather out of it and it really improves the shaving experience.

Shaving Oils (or Pre-Shave oils)

Shaving oils are an interesting part of the shaving experience, because for the most part they are completely ignored by 80% of shavers out there today. You either see these marketed as shaving oils or pre-shave oils, depending on the way that the company wants to describe them, but they ultimately do the same thing.

Shaving oils do a very important job – they help prepare your face for a shave. While the primary goal of a shaving cream or soap is to provide some lubrication so that you don’t cut yourself, the shaving oil that you use helps you get a closer shave by preparing your face for the shave itself. It also can help to reduce some razor burn as well, making it an extremely important (if often forgotten) part of the shaving process. Since it goes close to the face, you want to put this on before you put on shaving cream, soap, or gel.

Shaving Gel

The shaving gel is a very much maligned tool, since it’s the base for most of the foamy, cheap aerosol shaving products from the major multi-blade manufacturers. That being said, there are actually a lot of good shaving gel choices out there. These shaving gel choices take advantage of the relative benefits of gel, including the lack of lather, but infuse that gel with high quality ingredients.

Interestingly enough, I still struggle with gels because I have had so many bad experiences with lower quality shaving gels. That being said, I have recently become a convert after finding a few good shaving gels to choose from.

Top Safety Razor Choices - In Depth

1. Merkur Long Handled Safety Razor

Merkur is a brand that needs really no introduction for most people familiar with shaving today, but if you aren’t familiar with the brand then you will quickly realize through some basic research that they are one of the heavyweights in the safety razor shaving world.

The long handled safety razor developed by Merkur is a riff on one of their most popular razors, the HD 34C, and we happen to like it more because it builds on the qualities that we found to be so essential to safety razor shavers.

The razor itself is basically bulletproof, which is a great start to building a razor. While some of the other items on this list use different blade replacement mechanisms (like the butterfly opening), this one is a simple screw top that really can’t break and that lets you easily change your blades (which I usually do once a week). The opening mechanism is something that you do NOT want to break on a safety razor, which is why I look at how it works so closely.

The longevity of this mechanism alone makes it the best razor, but I also like it because it is very easy to use and the added handle makes it better for guys with big hands or that want a bit more leverage for their shave.

2. Merkur HD 34C Safety Razor

The Merkur HD 34C safety razor is something that you really want to look at if you are even thinking about shaving with a safety razor. The best safety razor award has gone to Merkur for a while, and this is the reason.

The 34C builds on the great qualities that Merkur has instilled in its razors for a while, and this razor makes the list of the best razors for its pedigree just as much as for its quality of offering a great shave.

The thing that you will notice about this razor, and one of the most surprising things that we noticed during our safety razor reviews was that this thing is HEAVY. For new safety razor shavers, we recommend being careful with this, because a heavy safety razor is far more likely to cut you, but if you can get beyond the fact that you need to shave carefully, you will get a much better and ultimately faster shave using this blade. If your hands run on the smaller side, we would actually recommend skipping our top pick and choosing this one instead.

3. WEISHI Long Handle Version Butterfly Open Double Edge Safety Razor

If you were to ask 100 safety razor shavers what the top safety razors were, they would probably choose products from Merkur, Parker, or Weishi. The Weishi long handle razor is definitely appealing, because it offers a very high quality shave and it has a completely different look than its European brethren.

The most ‘innovative’ aspect of the Weishi is the opening mechanism – the Weishi utilizes a butterfly mechanism which opens in two pieces on the top. It’s really cool to watch and sets the razor apart from the others.

Additionally, this razor is much lighter than the Merkur, which is nice for those who are new to safety razor shaving, because it means that the razor is less likely to cut you (safety razors are meant to glide across the face, but new shavers are more likely to press too hard when it isn’t needed). If you like the idea of a slightly lighter, more forgiving razor to start out with, the Weishi is for you.

4. Parker 99R Double Edge Safety Razor

Conversely, if you are looking for a razor that is going to actually be a LOT heavier, then you want to go with the Parker 99R. This razor is made with its weight in mind, and this gives it a heft that most other razors can’t match, and that really makes it feel like a substantial product.

The Parker brand is one that has stood the test of time, and their products can be found all around North America and Europe. I felt like this really was a testament to the quality of the razor in general and something that made me feel a lot better about it overall. Many of the below razors were also good, but they didn’t have the name brand reputation of the top four items in this list, which is a big reason why they are so much lower. Sometimes reputation does matter, and with an expensive razor that’s really true.

5. Utopia Care Double Edge Safety Razor

This Utopia Care razor is a very good example of something that we would consider a more generic brand. That’s not to say that it isn’t one of the best DE razor options out there, because it is, but it does a lot without the benefit of a name brand.

The reason why this is listed as #5 is because it does give you a very high quality razor for a very good price, and that is hard to do. Many times you see these cheap razors out there and they aren’t that good, but Utopia has found a good mix between price and performance, something that I believe really sets the bar for ‘generic’ brand safety razors today.

The low cost of this razor also makes getting into shaving with a safety razor a relatively cheap endeavor, so if you are considering starting with a safety razor but don’t want to spend upwards of $30 to get the razor itself, this is a great option for you.

6. Vikings Blade Double Edge Safety Razor

One of the things that you surprisingly don’t see in many safety razor reviews is the outward focus on masculinity. The safety razor is an extremely masculine item (in this author’s opinion), and it’s exciting to see a brand really play into that. The razor itself is pretty good as well, with Swedish made materials and a butterfly opening that looks impressive as well.

The only thing that you tend to worry about with this type of razor is the longevity of a butterfly opening. Weishi is able to get away with this to an extent because they are a well-known and high quality brand, but you have to be concerned about this locking up on you with a less well known product. I still recommend this to many people looking for a great safety razor because it is high quality and relatively well known as well (albeit not on the same level as Merkur, Parker, or Weishi).

7. MyLifesDesign Double Edge Safety Razor

Let’s just get this out of the way right now – I hate the logo on the top of this razor. It looks garish (to me) and it just isn’t my style. That being said, the razor itself is good and it is very well made, so there is a tradeoff. If you are looking for something relatively inexpensive and that has been built in the spirit of the Merkur that you see above (but for a much lower price), then you may want to give this one a shot and see how it works for you.

8. Smoothere Double Edge Safety Razor

The Smoothere DE razor is one that I really liked because it was geared for someone who travels. Even though there are some issues with traveling with a safety razor, if you are willing to take the risk and pack it in your bag, then it can help to have a complete kit that is ready to go from the minute that you open the box.

The one thing that I didn’t like about this razor were the ‘premium’ blades that were included in it. While they might be good, you want to be able to put the blades on your face every time, and a non-branded set of blades just does not give me that level of confidence. I may just be picky, but when blades are all of $0.50 each on the top end for the highest quality ones, I would rather just pay up for great blades or have them included in the pack.

9. Shaveology Double Edge Safety Razor

I will say that honestly, Shaveology did make a good razor here. They have excellent packaging as well, which to me is emblematic of a premium product, but they also make a generally good product as well, so you aren’t just getting a box of empty promises.

The product itself isn’t going to be the best thing that you’ve ever shaved with, and I do wish the price was a bit lower for the quality of the product that you are getting, but this is more nitpicky than an actual issue with the razor itself. If you like the styling and want a decent razor, just remember that you are paying up a bit for the privilege (?) of getting one from Shaveology. For the price, I would recommend just buying the Merkur and calling it a day.

10. Perfecto Double Edge Safety Razor

You have to admit that the Perfecto does seem to live up to its name with their product. The razor looks really good from the second that you pull it out, and it does seem to be made with good materials overall. I didn’t have a ton of concern about this razor in general, but what really did push it into the Top 10 list was the fact that you can get the razor (which is overall a good purchase) for under $10!

This is a HUGE deal, and a great way to get started with one of the best DE razor buys out there. Take a look if you love deals and don’t necessarily need the crème de la crème safety razor to start out with.

Features that you need in your safety razor

Buying a safety razor can be an easy process, but knowing a few things that can help to make it even easier on you. When I started looking at the different razors out there today, it immediately struck me that there were a lot of different brands out there, so I immediately began looking at forums and other shaving hot spots to get the skinny on what I really needed to know.

What I found was that the brand doesn’t necessarily make the razor, but it does take you most of the way to getting a good buy. Many of the newer brands on the market can be good, but they are by and large unproven. This makes it hard to know if you are getting something good if you go with one of those brands. On the flip side, Merkur has been around for ages, so you know that you are getting something pretty good when you buy from them, and most people recommend them for exactly that reason.

Secondly, you want to know a bit about the way that the razor works, and by this I’m primarily talking about the way that you put blades into the razor before you use it. The butterfly opening, something that I’ve talked about a bit above, is extremely prone to failure, and even more so on cheaper products. If you are buying cheap, you want the way that you put blades into the razor to be completely bulletproof, because that’s one of the only moving parts of the entire thing and the most prone to failure.

The last thing that you want when you’re starting out is a bad shaving experience, so get something that gives you the heft you need, is relatively maintenance free and has few points of failure, and that’s made by a great brand. If you’re trying to figure out how to use the thing after you get it, then take a look at the video below for a quick primer.

What to know about buying DE razor blades

You may have noticed that we didn’t talk too much about which razor had the best DE razor blades, and that’s because they are mostly interchangeable. You can get good blades, but to get the best blades is much more about trial and error than anything else. Some people will like certain blades over others, and you will want to try a few different products to get the right one for your skin and shaving style. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic bullet here, just a lot of trial and error.

The one piece of advice that I will give you is that you want to try to go with duller blades to start out with. Most beginners tend to use sharp blades and cut the heck out of themselves the first two times. A cheaper blade like the Shark ones which are bundled with almost all the razors on our list are a great starting point for your journey into safety razor shaving.

Conclusion

Starting to shave with a safety razor isn’t going to always be the easiest or most hassle free experience, and for many it can be downright scary to start. The thought of dragging an actual blade across your face isn’t something for the faint of heart (but it’s no straight razor either!), but in the end you will get a closer shave and feel better about the quality of your shave as well. On top of that, you can get a ton of different things to improve your shaving experience, from shaving creams and gels to the more travel friendly shaving soaps. All of these can really elevate your shaving experience, so take a look at all of your options and you can easily turn your shave from a daily chore to an enjoyable, relaxing experience.

Product images via their respective pages on Amazon.com

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